Experience an extraordinary range of habitats and cultures on this exclusive East Africa expedition to five countries, spanning from Cape Town to Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam. Delve into the rare botany of South Africa’s Western Cape and survey cliffs and caves along the Garden Route. Explore diverse ecosystems in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, and then go on safari to the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in search of the “big five.” Venture into South Africa’s bush country; cruise Mozambique’s extraordinary coast teeming with marine life; photograph playful lemurs, colorful reptiles and the renowned baobab trees of Madagascar; experience the cultures and wildlife of Mayotte in the French Comoros; and immerse yourself in the heady scents and fascinating history of Zanzibar.
Go on safari in South Africa’s renowned Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, watching for the “big five”: lion, leopard, elephant, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceros
• Get acquainted with intriguing cultures, from South Africa’s Zulu people to the rich mix of people drawn to vibrant Zanzibar
• Explore the unique flora and fauna of Madagascar in three different regions, encountering lemurs, ancient baobab trees, chameleons, and rare birds
• Visit UNESCO World Heritage sites from South Africa’s iSimangaliso Wetland Park to Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar
• Capture your best photos alongside a National Geographic Photography Expert
Affectionately known locally as the “Mother City,” Cape Town sits on the rugged coastline with the backdrop of the iconic Table Mountain. Transfer to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and our hotel: The Table Bay Hotel. Join us this evening for a welcome reception.
This morning set out for Table Mountain to ride the cable car (weather permitting) to the top. Take in the stunning views of the city and the surrounding Cape Peninsula. Continue on to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, nestled on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. Its beautiful gardens showcase both landscaped and natural areas, which earns them the title of “Conservation Gardens.” Following a lunch of local specialties, embark National Geographic Explorer. Be out on deck as we sail along the Atlantic coast and round the Cape of Good Hope.
Perched on the rugged South Cape coastline, Hermanus is surrounded by the natural beauty of the sea and towering mountains. Visit the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, renowned for the beauty and diversity of its plant life and walk through the fynbos (“fine bush”) in search of flowers and wildlife that includes birds, baboons, and mongooses. Alternatively, choose to explore the town and Saturday market, before heading to the countryside where we visit some of the local vineyards.
From Mossel Bay, tour along the coastline to Knysna, gateway to South Africa’s Garden Route. Cross the Knysna Lagoon by ferry to explore the private Featherbed Nature Reserve and take a leisurely downhill walk with great views through forest, seeing the steep sandstone cliffs and ancient Khoi Khoi sea caves. There are many bird species and great views across Knysna Lagoon. After a buffet lunch under a canopy of milkwood trees, we return to Mossel Bay and sail.
Enjoy National Geographic Explorer’s many amenities as we spend the day sailing along the South African coast. Spend time on deck taking in the panoramic views, enjoying talks from our onboard experts, and learning about the amazing wildlife, cultures, and geology that we experience on our journey.
Durban is South Africa’s third-largest city and a multicultural center known for its Indian and Zulu populations. The hinterland is a stronghold of Zulu culture and rich in nature – offering us some interesting experiences. Visit a Zulu village, meet the people of the community, and see a performance of dancing and drumming. At Eshowe, visit the Zululand Historical Museum (Fort Nongqayi) and other places of interest. Alternatively, guests may opt to tour the center of Durban, seeing its Golden Mile, harbor, city hall, and an Indian spice market.
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage site, protects remarkable habitats near the coast, including wetlands, savannah, forest, woodlands, beaches, and reefs. The centerpiece is Lake St. Lucia, where we go out by boat in search of large groups of hippos, crocodiles, fish eagles, and much more. Among the park’s habitats are forested dunes and papyrus marshes. We also look for black rhinos in the Eastern Shores Nature Reserve. Spend the night off the ship at a lodge in St. Lucia.
Early this morning drive to the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, one of Africa’s premier game parks – renowned for wildlife that includes the “big five” (rhinoceros, elephant, lion, leopard, and Cape buffalo), along with giraffe, antelope, cheetah, and outstanding birdlife. White rhinos can be seen here, and there is a chance of spotting black rhinos, too. Take a game-viewing drive in an open four-wheel-drive safari vehicle in this superb habitat. We return to National Geographic Explorer at Richards Bay in the late afternoon.
Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique, sits on the shores of the Indian Ocean. Known as Lourenço Marques during the colonial era, the city was originally settled by the Portuguese and is full of character and charm. We visit the fortress of Nossa Senhora da Conceição (completed in 1787), the colorful Central Market, the fine Museum of Natural History, Iron House, and the Botanical Garden, as well as Maputo’s historic railway station. This evening we set sail across the Mozambique Channel toward Madagascar.
Today we head inland to Zombitse Vohibasia National Park. Located in the southwestern part of Madagascar, the park was originally established in 1997, but the wildlife has been protected since 1962. Madagascar is known for its unique species—both flora and fauna. Trails weave through the forest and provide rare opportunities to see many amazing species—rambunctious and noisy lemurs; over 85 species of birds (some, like the Appert’s greenbul, are only found in Zombitse); brightly colored chameleons and geckos; and countless colorful butterflies that flutter among the orchid trees. We spend the day exploring the park.
From Morondava, we drive to the renowned “Avenue of the Baobabs”—a large stand of photogenic Adansonia grandidieri trees, and one of the classic sights of Madagascar. These beautiful, endemic trees can grow to 100 feet, and individual specimens may be hundreds of years old. We have plenty of chances to view and photograph them. We also have the opportunity to meet the people who call this region home.
From Mahajanga, we drive to Ankarafantsika National Park, a superb deciduous lowland forest. We walk in the forest to look for lemurs including Coquerel’s sifakas, along with horned and rhinoceros chameleons, frogs, and the turtles which breed here. Birds include banded kestrels, rufous vangas, and Madagascar fish eagles. Ravelobe Lake has Nile crocodiles and waterbirds. The flora is interesting as well, with a number of native medicinal plants. Upon returning to the ship, we set sail for Mayotte.
Although geographically within the Comoros group of islands, Mayotte is a territory of France. Our visit shows us French colonial architecture, colorful local cultures, and a distinctive style of dress. Learn about the fragrant ylang-ylang tree—originally from southeast Asia and introduced by the French, the oil is highly prized by perfumers. For those seeking more activity, set off on a hike at Mont Choungi. Along the way, keep an eye out for brown lemurs or possibly the Mayotte sunbird.
A tropical paradise, Zanzibar is an exotic mixture of cultures, history, and natural beauty. Known as the Spice Isle, it was a trading mecca on the route from Arabia to Africa. Europeans, Arabs, and Indians were just some who prospered in the lucrative spice trade; their various styles make up the city’s architecture. Visit Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and experience the more ominous side of the island’s history—the slave trade. Following lunch enjoy the nature trails of Jozani Forest as we search for the red colobus monkey, found only on Zanzibar. Also be on the lookout for bushbabies, duiker (antelope) and over 40 species of birds. Back on board raise a toast to this amazing journey during our farewell dinner.
Located on a massive natural harbor, this once-small fishing village has grown into a thriving commercial center and the largest city of Tanzania. Following disembarkation spend the morning exploring this diverse city—a mixture of African, Muslim, and South African influences. Visit the National Museum and House of Culture where the history of Tanzania is showcased. Spend time at Tinga Tinga Market, a vibrant art gallery of the Tinga Tinga style of painting made famous in the 1960s and still celebrating the heritage of Tanzania and Eastern Africa. Following lunch transfer to the airport for flights home.
Itineraries are subject to change.
25 March, 2024 to 11 April, 2024
National Geographic Explorer
#301-308 — Cabins feature one or two portholes. Most cabins feature two single beds that can be converted to a queen. Cabins #301-306 feature one queen-sized bed. All cabins feature a writing desk, floor length mirror, reading lamps, well-appointed bathrooms with a roomy glass-wall shower, and a TV.
#317-320, 335-336 — Cabins feature two single beds (some can convert to a queen-sized bed), and one large window. They offer a writing desk, floor length mirror, reading lamps, sitting chair, well-appointed bathrooms with a roomy glass-wall shower, and a TV.
#313-316, 321-328, 337-350 — Cabins feature two single beds (some can convert to a queen-sized bed), one large window, and two sitting chairs and a small table and ample storage. They have a writing desk, floor length mirror, reading lamps, well-appointed bathrooms with a roomy glass-wall shower, and a TV. Cabins 341 & 343 have a sofa bed for a triple.
#103-104, 107-108 — Cabins feature two single beds than can convert to a queen-sized bed, and at least one large window, climate controls, sitting chair, and a TV. Bathrooms are also generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall.
#201-202, 204-207, 210, 212, 217, 226, 228 — Cabins feature two single beds and at least one large window. All cabins can convert between two single beds to a queen, except Cabins 217, 226 & 228 that feature one queen-size bed only. All cabins feature climate controls, sitting chairs, and a TV. Bathrooms are also generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall.
#309-311, 329-334 — These cabins feature one single bed and a large window, a writing desk, reading lamp, bathroom with a roomy glass-wall shower stall, and a TV.
#209, 211, 214, 216, 218, 220-222, 224 — Cabins feature a balcony with sliding glass doors, feature one queen-sized bed, a writing desk and chairs, climate controls, a TV. Bathrooms are also generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall. (Cabin 221 has two single beds that can convert to an Olympic-sized queen.)
#105-106 — These cabins feature one single bed and a large window, a writing desk, reading lamp, bathroom with a roomy glass-walled shower stall, and a TV.
#203, 208 — These cabins feature one single bed and a large window, a writing desk, reading lamp, bathroom with a roomy glass-walled shower stall, and a TV.
#101-102 — These spacious cabins can be converted into triples. They have two single beds that can be converted into a queen, a writing desk, double closet, bookcase, sofa-bed, chairs, two large windows, and a TV. The sleeping area can be closed off with the glass partition. Bathrooms are generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall and twin sinks.
#213 — This spacious cabin has a private balcony, two single beds that can be converted into a queen, a writing desk, double closet, bookcase, chairs, and a TV. The sleeping area can be closed off with the glass partition. Bathrooms are generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall and twin sinks.
#215, 219, 230 — These large cabins with private balconies have two single beds that can convert to an Olympic-sized queen. They have seating areas with a sofa-bed and can be converted to triples. Cabins also include a desk with chairs, coffee table with sitting chair, and a small table. Bathrooms are generously sized with a roomy glass-walled shower stall and twin sinks.
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 108 meters
Passenger Capacity: 148 (single & twin cabins)
Built / Refurbished: 1982 / 2008
National Geographic Explorer is a state-of-the-art expedition ship. It is a fully stabilized, ice-class vessel, enabling it to navigate polar passages while providing exceptional comfort. It carries kayaks and a fleet of Zodiac landing craft. An Undersea Specialist operates a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and sophisticated video equipment, extending access to the underwater world.
Public areas: Bistro Bar; Chart Room; Restaurant; Global Gallery; Library, Lounge with full service bar and state-of-the-art facilities for films, slideshows and presentations; Mud Room with lockers for expedition gear, and Observation Lounge. Our “Open Bridge” provides guests an opportunity to meet our Officers and Captain and learn about navigation.
Meals: Served in single seatings with unassigned tables for an informal atmosphere and easy mingling. Menu is international with local flair.
Cabins: A New Look for National Geographic Explorer Suites
National Geographic Explorer recently debuted updated suites, enhanced with the sleek, Scandinavian design that has become the hallmark of our polar fleet. Each of these elegant cabins now holds a Command Center, which allows guests to continue to explore from the comfort of their suites with a set of tools that includes a barometer, a National Geographic Atlas, a television that broadcasts entertainment and ship navigation, a coffee maker, and multiple USB and universal electric ports for cameras and other devices. 81 outside cabins
All feature windows or portholes, private facilities, climate controls, hair dryers, and TV, plus Ethernet, Wi-Fi connections, and USB ports for mobile devices. Some cabins have balconies. Single cabins in Category SA and Category SB are located on the main deck and upper deck.
Expedition Equipment: Zodiac landing craft, kayaks, Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), hydrophone, SplashCam, underwater video camera, Crow’s Nest remote controlled camera, video microscope, snorkeling gear.
Special Features: A full-time doctor, Undersea Specialist, LEX Photo Specialist and Video Chronicler, Internet Cafe and laundry.
Wellness: The vessel is staffed by two Wellness Specialists and features a glass enclosed Fitness Center, outdoor stretching area, two LEXspa treatment rooms and Sauna.
DISCOVERY PACKAGE INCLUDING $2,000 AIR CREDIT Receive a $2,000 per person air credit, deducted from cabin fare prior to any additional applicable savings, unlimited Wi-Fi, a $250 laundry credit, and a commemorative jacket and backpack on select departures. Discovery Package must be communicated at time of booking and is available per person. Valid for new bookings only, subject to availability, may not be combined with other offers, and is not applicable on extensions. Call for details.
BACK-TO-BACK SAVINGS Save 10% on any consecutive journeys taken on board one of our expedition ships. This savings is applicable on voyage fares only, and are not valid on extensions or airfare.
COMBINING OFFERS Combine now and save! Certain offers may be combinable, up to two savings opportunities, except where noted otherwise. For example, travel with a group of 8 or more on back-to-back expeditions, and take advantage of both savings.
• Excursions, hotels, and airport transfers, as indicated in the itinerary
• Selection of exploration tools curated to your destination, such as Zodiacs and glass-bottom boats, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, snorkeling equipment (including wetsuits, masks, and fins), and other state-of-the-art gear
• Guidance and company of our leading expedition staff
• All meals as indicated in the itinerary, both aboard and onshore. Meals are inspired by regional cuisine and locally sourced where possible.
• Hors d’oeuvres inspired by regional cuisine and locally sourced where possible
• 24-hour access to snacks, premium coffees and teas, non-alcoholic beverages, and filtered water
• Beer, wine, cocktails, and spirits aboard the NG Endurance, NG Resolution, NG Explorer, NG Orion, NG Endeavour II, NG Islander II, Sea Cloud, Sea Cloud II, Lord of the Glens, and The Jahan. We are also pleased to offer a selection of super premium wines and liquors, available for purchase.
• Beer and wine, spirits and cocktails on all 2024 departures aboard NG Venture, NG Quest, NG Sea Bird, and NG Sea Lion, and specialty cocktails with meals aboard Delfin ll, with super premium wines and liquors available for purchase.
• Crew gratuities aboard NG Endurance, NG Resolution, NG Explorer, NG Orion, Sea Cloud, Sea Cloud II, Lord of the Glens, Oberoi Philae, and The Jahan
• Free Wi-Fi aboard Lord of the Glens and The Jahan.
• Free Wi-Fi, up to one hour a day per person, aboard NG Islander II and NG Endeavour II
• Presentations on your destination by expedition staff and expert guest speakers
• Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard water refill stations
• The services of a physician, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or paramedic
• Morning stretch classes and 24-hour access to exercise equipment where available
• 24-hour access to lounges, observation decks, library stocked with regionally relevant literature, and other shared spaces
• Complimentary Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic parka or jacket on select Arctic and Antarctic voyages
• Assistance by the onboard NG Photography Expert (NG Endurance, NG Explorer, NG Orion, NG Resolution) and Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor (all ships)
• Access to the OM System Photo Gear Locker with the latest gear to try out on loan (all Lindblad-National Geographic ships except in Galapagos)
• Park and site entrance fees, special access permits, and port taxes
• Airfare (except flights when indicated as included), pre- and post-expedition extensions, additional hotel nights, and private transfers
• Travel protection plans and passport, visa, and immigration fees
• Laundry, spa treatments, scuba diving, Wi-Fi, and phone services (except when indicated as included)
• Crew gratuities aboard NG Endeavour II, NG Islander II, NG Venture, NG Quest, NG Sea Bird, NG Sea Lion, and Delfin II